Sub Inspector (SI) Vinay Kumar sits amidst heaps of files, both old and new, around him in the record room (also known as Sirista in Hindi), but points towards a new register for marking presence, the daily work done and the exit time. The register belongs to the freshly-minted “investigation” team of Shastri Nagar police station, one of the largest police stations of the state capital.
Shastri Nagar is one of 1,060 police stations across the state out to implement the state government’s new order to segregate “investigation” work from “law and order” issues. The move is aimed at cutting down the high number of pending cases and helping policemen specialise. The end goal is to concentrate more on investigations so that the police can file charge sheets well within the stipulated period (60 to 90 days) and also to improve conviction rates.
“It is a very good idea but we need more personnel to fully implement it. An investigating officer, on an average, has 80-100 cases to handle”, says Kumar, who is in charge of investigation while his counterpart, SI Sudeshwar Paswan, is looking after law and order matters. Apart from the police station in-charge, Vimlendu Kumar, there are 10 SIs and five assistant SIs. Of these, the investigation team has seven SI and three ASI. The law and order team has three SIs (including its officer-in-charge) and two ASIs.
About 800 cases are pending in the police station. Since January till now, about 700 FIRs have been registered. But “Heinous crimes make up only about 15-20 per cent of the cases; the rest are petty crimes such as mobile phone and bike thefts, fights with neighbours and some domestic violence cases,” explains Kumar.
While segmentation of work helps, yet challenges remain. “Our real test will be when we need to provide security cover to some VVIP or if there is a big law and order issue,” states Kumar. The fact is in such a situation the law and order team will likely ask the investigation team to provide reinforcements. Still, on a daily basis, having a dedicated team for investigations is sure to increase conviction rates, he believes.
Officers at other police stations such as the one near the Patna airport, too, welcome the move for segmentation but they also ask for better infrastructure and more personnel. The police station near the airport, which was inaugurated in 2007, is still housed in a four-room structure, which was initially constructed by the Birla Institute of Technology, Patna, for its construction staffers. The police station building is on government land though. There are two barracks — one for officers and another for constables. Inspector Arun Kumar, who had taken charge in July and has 313 pending cases (most of which are petty crimes) before him, says “Segregation of law and order from investigations is a move that will help forces specialise. Some policemen do not like too much paperwork and others do not enjoy being in the field. Now, policemen can follow their interest and specialise”.
Bihar’s Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey believes that the division of work would pay off and show results in six months. The 33,000 sanctioned positions will be apportioned in a phased manner, he tells as he recalls what Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said when he ordered the segmentation: “It is time now for the police to either perform or face action”.